AEV on UK events business
by Annie Byrne
We seem to be entering a period of history where working together for the common good has gained an exceptional level of acceptance. And, while a group of AEV member venues chaired by an independent industry colleague does not have quite the news cache of the governmental alliance, it has marked a major breakthrough in achieving a balanced approach to legal compliance and practical application in UK event venues. The inconsistency of numerous standards, rules and regulations across the wide range of event venues of the UK must have caused frustration amongst our colleagues in the industry for many years. However, when you consider evolution of venues such as Stoneleigh Park with a long-standing history of varying use compared to that of the latest phase of development at Excel London, it becomes apparent why the wide variation came into being.The AEV has been working on the issue for a number of years and has now produced the eGuide. Its objective is to provide guidance for achieving required standards, while working on-site at AEV member venues. It is a set of commonly-agreed standards across all venues which AEV members can adopt, making life considerably simpler when working in one of our venues.One example leaps to mind: staircases. Staircases are something that most of the contracting side of the industry will recognise as a source of frustration. The differing standards has made the reuse of clients’ exhibition stands problematic, adding costs for no real benefit to the UK event industry.Harmonisation of this and other standards has several other benefits. In health and safety terms it makes the management of contractors on-site simpler, fairer and less fraught. It allows venues to manage exceptions, where a staircase may be a part of an exhibit , such as a yacht or simulator, it becomes easier to manage the risk in a sensible manner. If the contractor knows and understands when there will be an exception, it will enable them to open up a dialogue with the venue early in the process and, between them, find a solution.It is gratifying to see the eGuide adoption in venues across the country, both large and small, and the most recent adopter is FIVE, host of Farnborough International Airshow 2010. If there was any remaining doubt as to whether the industry buys into this principle, the eGuide is a main agenda item at the contractors’ strategic forum the G50.Whether you prefer your co-operation at a political or industry level, the work undertaken on the eGuide has shown that the UK's venues have both the desire and will to make our venues as attractive and easy as possible to work in. The eGuide will adapt and grow. It provides tangible proof that the industry can come together to overcome long standing issues and work cooperatively towards the common good.